Split-belt walking: An experience that is hard to forget

T J W Buurke, N. Sharma, Sander Swart, L. H. V. van der Woude, Rob den Otter, Claudine Lamoth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

BACKGROUND. The common paradigm to study the adaptability of human gait is split-belt walking.
Short-term savings (minutes to days) of split-belt adaptation have been widely studied to gain knowledge in locomotor learning but reports on long-term savings are limited. Here, we studied whether after a prolonged inter-exposure interval (three weeks), the newly acquired locomotor
pattern is subject to forgetting or that the pattern is saved in long-term locomotor memory.
RESEARCH QUESTION. Can savings of adaptation to split-belt walking remain after a prolonged interexposure interval of three weeks? METHODS. Fourteen healthy adults participated in a single tenminute adaptation session to split-belt walking and five-minute washout to tied-belt walking. They
received no training after the first exposure and returned to the laboratory exactly three weeks later
for the second exposure. To identify the adaptation trends and quantify saving parameters we used
Singular Spectrum Analysis, a non-parametric, data-driven approach. We identified trends in step
length asymmetry and double support asymmetry, and calculated the adaptation volume (reduction in asymmetry over the course of adaptation), and the plateau time (time required for the trend to level off). RESULTS. At the second exposure after three weeks, we found substantial savings in adaptation for step length asymmetry volume (61.6% – 67.6% decrease) and plateau time (76.3%
decrease). No differences were found during washout or in double support asymmetry.
SIGNIFICANCE. This study shows that able-bodied individuals retain savings of split-belt adaptation over a three-week period, which indicates that only naïve split-belt walkers should be included in split-belt adaptation studies, as previous experience to split-belt walking will not be washed out, even after a prolonged period. In future research, these results can be compared with long-term savings in patient groups, to gain insight into factors underlying (un)successful gait training in rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-187
Number of pages12
JournalGait & Posture
Volume97
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2022

Cite this